From not sleeping enough to wearing tight pants, these 6 bad habits can affect sperm quality and count
03/02/2019 // Rhonda Johansson // Views

Lifestyle habits play an important role in semen and sperm quality. Seemingly harmless activities may be contributing to poor sperm quality, which increases the risk of infertility. In this article, we will be discussing habits that all men should be very careful of.

Before that, it is important to differentiate semen from sperm, to avoid confusion. Semen is the cloudy, white bodily fluid that comes out of the penis during ejaculation. It consists of sperm cells (called spermatozoa), and a nutrient-rich fluid which is meant to help with fertilization. Because semen is easier to see, doctors typically ask men about the quality of their semen before checking for sperm count. Semen is typically whitish-gray in color and has a jelly-like texture. As with a woman’s vaginal fluid, changes in semen color can be an indicator of disease or diet change.

If a doctor or a patient is concerned about the quality and count of sperm, a semen analysis is made. Here, the number of sperm (volume), shape of sperm, and movement of sperm (motility) are measured. All three determine if sperm are healthy. A normal sperm count ranges from 15 million to 200 million sperm per milliliter of semen. Anything less than this amount is considered low -- a condition which is called oligospermia.

Knowing your sperm count is important, even if you are not planning on getting anyone pregnant. Sperm count and quality are associated with overall health. A study found that men with low sperm count were more likely to have a higher percentage of body fat and an increased likelihood of metabolic syndrome.


Aside from proper diet and exercise, certain habits may contribute to poor sperm quality. These are listed below:

  • Being sleep deprived -- Studies show that otherwise healthy men can have poor sperm quality if they do not get enough sleep. A 2017 study published in Medical Science Monitor found that healthy men who slept for less than six hours had reduced sperm quality. Sperm from men who were sleep-deprived had lower survival rates.
  • Drinking too many soft drinks -- A Danish study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found a probable correlation between high soft drink consumption and poor sperm quality.
  • Stress -- Psychological stress has a direct impact on sperm and semen quality. The exact mechanics are not fully understood, but current hypotheses suggest that stress triggers the release of a steroid hormone which blunts testosterone levels and sperm production.
  • Excessive alcohol intake -- Habitual drinking is linked to reduced sperm count. Men who drink more than 25 units of alcohol per week are observed to have significantly poorer sperm quality than those who drink moderately.
  • Wearing very tight pants -- Sperm production is highly sensitive to temperature changes. This is why the penis and testicles are located outside of the body. Research shows that wearing very tight underwear or pants push the testicles too close to the body, consequently affecting sperm production. One study made by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that men who wore boxer shorts instead of tight-fitting underwear had 25 percent higher sperm concentration.
  • Carrying your phone in your pants pocket -- As with the previous point, the male anatomy needs to be kept cool as much as possible. Having a phone constantly in one’s pants pocket may be directly “cooking” sperm, studies show. Men who frequently place their phones in their front trouser pockets were found to have poor sperm quality.

For more articles that talk about sperm quality, head over to

Sources include: 1 2 1 2

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